Tester’s improved care for rural veterans nears final passage

Senator calls on Senate to move past ‘political games’ to vote on legislation

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – As Veterans Day approaches, Senator Jon Tester today urged his colleagues to support his upcoming legislation to improve health care for veterans who live in Montana and across rural America.

Tester—Montana’s only member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee—called on Congress to quickly pass his bipartisan Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, which would benefit more than 100,000 veterans living in Montana.

During a speech on the Senate floor, Tester called on the Senate to move past “political games” and act on the needed legislation.

“America’s responsibility to honor the promise to our veterans should not depend on whether the veteran lives in an urban area,” said Tester.  “But too often, that is still the case.  This bill helps address some of the inequalities facing rural veterans.”

Tester’s measure is included in the Caregiver and Veterans Health Services Act (S. 1963).  Although the measure has the full backing of Democrats and Republicans on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, one U.S. Senator is currently blocking the bill, Tester noted.

Several veterans’ service organizations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, are asking Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to allow a vote on the legislation.

“Our veterans are too important to play politics with,” Tester said.  “These are folks who have served this country so very well.  We need to step up to the plate and serve them in the same way they served us.  Live up to our promises. Live up to our obligations to the veterans of this country.”

Tester’s Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act would improve mental health services, provide grants for innovative programs that improve health care for rural veterans and lock in the VA’s current 41.5-cents per mile travel reimbursement for disabled veterans.  Tester worked with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over the past two years to raise the rate to 41.5 cents per mile from 11 cents per mile.

Leading veterans’ organizations in Montana support Tester’s legislation.

Tester’s entire floor speech is available online HERE.